What will Happen to Art After Everyone in America is Homeless?

More Earth Art?

Is this what Michal Heizer’s been planning for all this time?

How can I digress before I even start?

As I surfed the internet this morning, it seemed that everywhere I turned I was confronted with deep uncertainties about how the arts will fare when: 1. they are crushed under a falling sky; or, 2. governments, corporations, and individuals eliminate non-essential spending.

Well, any of you who have read more than a handful of posts on this blog already know what happened to my art faculty job.  This morning, Confessions of a Community College Dean has a post related to the portents of economic retraction for academia.

We all know that art programs have a tough time competing when administrations are forced to bring the bottom line to the forefront.  There is some research and data that supports the importance of arts & humanities within an overall curriculum.  But, while that info features within the very limited arsenal of arts non-profit fundraisers, I haven’t met very many faculty who have taken the time to become aware of it.  For myself, in the one instance I’ve had that I might have been able to bring some of those non-profit arguments to support a higher ed art department, by the time I could have done so my position had already been eliminated and searching for a new job took precedent over my discretionary time.

Then, today, Arts Journal brought links to these:

Theaters Monitoring Wall Street Drama – about declining philanthropy and corporate investment in Theatre.

Gas Prices, Economy Test Artists Traveling Crafts Circuit – interesting bit from that, in the context of trickle vs. non-trickle economics, is this: “The market has changed,” she said. “Probably the middle end is not doing as well, but the upper end is still selling.”

So, what will we all do?

Modern Art Notes raises a matter of concern for those of us who cherish the neutrality of arts institutions who maintain distinction from profit-driven incentives in the first point of Five Things I Think.

Other news, also via Arts Journal, is more positive:  the Tony Awards are instituting a philanthropy award.  You catch more flies with honey…

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2 Responses

  1. I have thought about this many times in recent months. As it stands now, we are not far from the reality hitting us in the face that art is not a necessity (for the masses anyway). The reason this has been a very pertinent issue for me is not because I will lack art sales. I never had those anyway! LOL However, I have had extraordinary timing in my life. I lost my college teaching jobs back in the early 90’s due to economic strife. College enrollment plummeted and so did adjunct teaching positions. I signed on to teach in a school district. Ironically, I decided this past year to try to get my foot back in the door of higher education. The economic situation the world is confronted with at the moment is not helping my cause and desire for a life change. This is for sure.
    Art will always be. However, you are right to ask questions about the state and configuration of that ART.
    Sheree Rensel

  2. I think you’ve raised a good point about the “necessity” of art. Art certainly isn’t necessary in the same way that, say food and shelter are. But, neither is pro football; and I don’t think the NFL is hurting right now.

    However, I’d argue that art is actually necessary in a healthy society. (As is entertainment such as sporting events.) The crux of the matter though, seems for me to always come down to education. That’s to say that you might be hard pressed to find people outside of arts institutions who can remember having any meaningful encounters with or even a remedial understanding of art. People and policy-makers don’t know why art is important because they don’t know what they’re missing.

    I wish you luck getting back into higher ed. Academia is facing some REAL CHALLENGES in the way it relates to its labor force. Stir in the “importance” of art, and you’ve got thousands of adjuncts carrying larger than full-time course loads while earning less than $20K/year. I think its a moral crime.

    Because, if a society-wide lack of understanding of the arts is a problem – I think not just for art but also for society – and, we won’t pay art teachers enough to live on, how are people going to learn about art?

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